What is Stressed Skin? Causes & Preventative Tips
Learn what causes stress acne, fine lines, wrinkles and dry or dehydrated skin. Discover skincare products that help calm and nourish the skin with Lancôme.
We’ve all experienced a breakout before: that much is certain. But if you’re suffering from recurrent acne breakouts and nothing seems to be helping, it’s possible stress is behind it. Stress can interfere with our lives in many ways, from our mood to our sleep, and research increasingly shows stress can have profound effects on the skin. Stress can trigger the aptly named condition stress acne as well as playing a role in skin dryness and accelerating skin ageing. Here’s what you need to know about the possible skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety and how you can tackle them.
How stress affects skin
Our body’s stress response exists to keep us safe from threats – but the whole-body inflammatory response can have the unfortunate side effect of triggering stressed skin and even breakouts and rashes. There are a variety of stress-related hormones that can have differing effects on the skin, but the good news is that alongside changing lifestyle factors to manage stress, there are skincare steps we can take to reduce or even eliminate those pesky stress breakouts for good. Let’s explore four skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety and how to take care of your stressed skin.
1: Stress acne prone breakouts
Your suspicions are correct: stress can lead to breakouts and acne. Put simply, the stress hormone cortisol can cause a domino effect which impacts sebum production, leading to excess oil clogging pores and ultimately acne. To add insult to injury – high stress levels can also interfere with wound healing, meaning those breakouts take longer to heal and scar. You can identify stress acne based on placement, primarily in the oily T-zone, and whether the breakouts seem aligned with periods of high stress.
2: Dry & Dehydrated Skin
You may be familiar with the all-important skin barrier – the other layer of your skin responsible for maintaining moisture. Your skin barrier is packed with protective proteins and lipids which keep your skin looking plump and feeling hydrated. Stress is bad news for the skin barrier, impairing its ability to function normally and hindering its ability to retain moisture. This can lead to dehydrated, stressed skin which may feel tight and prone to itchiness or even flaking.
3: Fine Lines & Wrinkles
Tied in with the disruptive effect stress can have on your skin barrier, stress can add fine lines and wrinkles to your face if left unchecked. This stressed skin effect can come about both directly and indirectly. Directly – as the stress hormone cortisol is associated with a loss of skin collagen and elasticity, which can accelerate skin aging. And indirectly – as stress can throw our sleeping patterns, eating habits and exercise routines out of balance, which has knock-on effects on skin ageing. All these factors can contribute to stress lines forming on the face.
4: Skin rash caused by stress
An unexpected skin rash can be brought on by allergies, warm temperatures, caffeine and even stress. Regardless of whether you have an underlying skin condition, stress can bring on a red (on pale skin) or reddish-purple (on dark skin), raised rash that can appear on different parts of the body – including the face. Just what you needed during a stressful week! As with many skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety, we have the stress hormone cortisol to thank for this inflammatory reaction.
Tips on how to reduce stress effects on skin
One of the best things you can do for your stressed skin is incorporate calming products into your skincare routine. After cleansing your skin, pat on a soothing toner such as Lancôme Tonique Confort. Formulated with hyaluronic acid and acacia honey, this toner both removes impurities from skin’s surface and improves skin hydration.
Following this, stressed skin can benefit from a revitalising skin serum like our Advanced Génifique Face Serum that can help hydrate skin and support a healthy skin barrier. It contains hyaluronic acid, which can hold 1000x its weight in water to hydrate and plump skin, and vitamin C for an antioxidant boost.
Once your serum has been applied, reach for a hydrating cream such as the Hydra Zen Neurocalm Night Cream, designed to recharge your skin with moisture every night. It has oil-free and non-comedogenic properties, meaning that it won’t clog pores and instead supports the skin barrier function while reducing signs of fatigue.
In support of a hydrating skincare routine, one of the best ways to help stressed skin is to look for ways to reduce stress throughout the day. Practice breathwork, watch your favourite TV series, or dedicate some time to yourself - this is an excellent time to indulge in your skincare routine and even take the time for a face mask. As you navigate life’s stresses, it’s best to have a strategic approach to helping your skin combat stress breakouts, stress lines on the face, and the overall appearance of stressed skin.